Event ReportsPublished on Nov 03, 2008
Prof Eiichi Katahara and Prof Marie Izuyama, two distinguished scholars from the National Institute for Defence Studies, Tokyo visited ORF on 11 March 2008 to initiate a seminar which was largely attended by scholars, journalists, diplomats, etc.
What will Japan do in the future?

Prof Eiichi Katahara and Prof Marie Izuyama, two distinguished scholars from the National Institute for Defence Studies, Tokyo visited ORF on 11 March 2008 to initiate a seminar which was largely attended by scholars, journalists, diplomats, etc. They presented two papers titled “Japan’s leap towards a ‘Normal State’ and its global and regional implications” by Prof Katahara and “The evolution of Japan-India strategic partnership” by Prof Izuyama.

A gist of Prof Katahara’s presentation:

Japan is a major power with global economic and political interests. A robust democracy allied to the US, Japan is located in the strategically important Northeast Asia where the interests of major powers such as the US, China, Russia, etc, intersect. But Japan also has serious vulnerabilities – a small nation with densely populated cities in disaster prone conditions. Japan’s dependence on the outside world for trade, energy, etc, is truly critical.

What are the fundamental aspects of Japanese security policy?  Broadly, it rests on two major pillars. One is the present Constitution of Japan. Article 9 of the Constitution has placed Japan under severe restrictions and therefore its security policy has to be exclusively defence oriented. Japan does not have power projections. It does not have an offensive weapons system. It has neither nuclear weapons nor aircraft carriers. There is a ban on Japan to dispatch its combat troops abroad. There is also a self –imposed ban on selling weapons or weapons technologies to foreign countries except the US.

The second is the Japan-US security alliance. Since the Constitution forbids Japan from exercising its right to collective self-defence, it has to depend on the US for its own security. The security alliance does not give Japan equality of status since Japan cannot legitimately go to the defence of the US when it faces a threat. Alliance with the US is indispensable for Japan’s security and important for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. It plays a key role in preventing new threats and various contingencies. Japan is therefore keen to strengthen the alliance by promoting such measures as intelligence exchange, and strong support for BMD. In December 2004, Japan adopted the National Defence Programme Guidelines with a view to strengthening its military capabilities to cope with any large scale external aggression in cooperation with the US.

In February 2005, the newly created Japan-US Security Consultative Committee produced a key document articulating the common strategic objectives of the two countries. In global terms, the two countries share many common values and interests such as human rights, democracy, non-proliferation of WMD, counter terrorism, stable energy supplies, Maritime Security, etc. In regional terms, their interests converge on subjects like the peaceful unification of the two Koreas, denuclearization of North Korea, a peaceful resolution of the issue concerning the future of Taiwan, greater transparency in China’s military expenditure, etc.

What is Japan supposed to do in the coming years? (1.)  It is important for Japan to articulate its national security strategy and establish a national security council. So far Japan has not spelt out clearly a national security strategy and it is difficult for other countries to know what Japan wants to do in international community. (2). Japan should expand the scope of   SDF’s role in international peace activities. (3.) Japan should make qualitative improvements in its defence capabilities. (4)  It is necessary for Japan to decide on the question of its right to exercise collective self-defence. Debate on constitutional revision is still going on and one is not sure how the present Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will deal with this issue. If Japan decides to address the above questions, it will emerge as a normal country so that Japan could be a proactive international player.

A gist of Prof Marie Izuyama’s presentation:

One can identify three legs of Japan’s security policy. The first one concerns the enhancement of Japan’s own capabilities. The second relates to the strengthening of its alliance with the US.  Third, Japan should maintain proactive cooperation with the international society. The third element which can be described as multilateralism is a complement to the US-Japan alliance.  Though there is broad agreement on the complementarity of multilateralism to the alliance, one could see two groups holding different views.  While the first group believes that multilateralism will lessen the dependence on the US and diversity Japanese diplomacy, the second group maintains that it could help the alliance become more robust.

The US entertained many misgivings about Japan’s enthusiasm for multilateralism in the mid-nineties. But following North Korea’s missile tests in 1998, Japan itself started showing its disappointment with the functioning of ARF and tended to become more sensitive to US ideas on multilateralism. But since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the scope of US-Japan alliance has been geographically expanded. At the same time, Japan has been associating itself with like-minded countries in the Indian Ocean. Since 2003, Japan has renewed its interest in multilateralism owing mainly to the rising influence of China in Asia. This new interest is different in the sense that in the East Asian Community, Japan has no intention to deal with traditional security, but wants to exercise soft power over regional influence. The present Fukuda government emphasizes the importance for Japan to maintain a synergy between its US alliance and Asian diplomacy.

Where does India figure in Japan’s security perspectives?  Even after the end of the cold war, relations were very much inhibited by the nuclear non-proliferation issues. It was only after Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori’s visit to India in 2000 that bilateral relations started diversifying. Today Indo-Japanese partnership encompasses a wide range of interests. Both countries have identified their relations at three levels- bilateral, regional and global. But it is the regional agenda that is assuming the utmost importance.  Maritime Security is one area where because of the convergence of their interests, considerable progress has been registered.  Bilateral naval exercises have taken place and now they have expanded into multinational exercises giving rise to different perceptions about their usefulness.

Prof. K.V. Kesavan, Distinguished Fellow and Dr. Veena Sharma, Fellow, ORF. Prof . Kesavan Chaired the seminar. There was a lively discussion at the end of the presentations made by the two Japanese professors.

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